We are not worthy of what Lou Williams does game in, game out. Or are we? Honestly, Clippers fans have suffered enough throughout the years that having such a special player as Lou Williams (as well as Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley) fall in our laps via a trade is justified in this karma-filled league. His ability to score from everywhere on the floor and also fill up the stat sheet (leads the Clippers in assists at 5.2 a game) can’t be talked about enough. It tickled me then and still does that just two weeks ago that Fanduel had Derrick Rose as the odds-on favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year award despite having worse stats on a worse team, and having missed nearly 20 games. A savvy bettor would have thrown his mortgage, cat, and first-born on Lou Will at his less-favored odds.
Any doubt about Lou’s 6MOY position was pretty much thrown out of the window Sunday night with his 25-point, buzzer-beating performance against a tough Nets squad. It was business as usual for the underground G.O.A.T., as he scored 11 points in the fourth and banged home a 28-footer to seal a game that featured multiple double-digit leads lost on both sides, in what was a true Sunday afternoon NBA game.
The Clippers are peaking at the right time and taking advantage of a lengthy eight game home-stretch against beatable teams. Winners of seven of their last eight, the Clips have backed up their early-season claim of being the best team in L.A. and are shoo-in’s for a playoff berth in the West. Standing in their way of not facing the two-time defending champions in the Warriors as the eighth seed are the streaking Spurs (winners of eight straight) and the Jazz (7-3 in their last ten). Both have easy schedules coming down the stretch, but both have more playoff experience than this Clips team, and are currently in better positions to get higher seeds. 48 might be the magic number to get them out of the eight spot, but even that number might not be enough. The West is insanely competitive and it kind of stinks that the game against the Wizards in November (remember they blew a 24-point lead?) and their 23-point loss to the 8-man Miami Heat in December will come back to bite them.
After a 3-1 week for L.A., let’s see where NBA media members rank the Clippers going into week 23.
This week: 9th, Last week: 7th
Notes: Things got a little hairy when the Clippers blew a 10-point lead with less than a minute to go against Brooklyn on Sunday. But Lou Williams saved the day with the first buzzer-beating game-winner of his 14-year career, a shot that illustrates a couple of key Clippers stats. They rank third in clutch offense (having scored 117.6 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime) and have shot a league-best 44 percent from 3-point range in March. They didn’t shoot enough 3-pointers (they were 9-for-15) in their loss to Portland on Tuesday, which was their final game in which they had a rest disadvantage (playing the second game of a back-to-back against a rested opponent). They had a rest advantage against the Nets and still have a league-high four rest-advantage games left on their schedule. The last of those is against the Jazz (who they currently trail by a half game in the loss column for seventh place) on the last night of the season. The first of those games is Tuesday against the Pacers, who play in Portland on Monday. The Clips are 8-3 (6-1 at home and 2-2 on the road) in rest-advantage games thus far.
This week: 11th, Last week: 12th
Notes: The Clippers have won seven of their past eight games to open an almost insurmountable lead for the eighth and final playoff spot out West. With the postseason seemingly assured, their next goal should be to move up and out of the eighth spot and a likely first-round date with the two-time defending champion Warriors. The Clippers are still within three games of the fourth-seeded Trail Blazers, giving them something to chase down the stretch.
This week: 4th (!!!), Last week: 7th
Notes: (It’s a poem - bare with us)
A coach with success and a breadth
Of low outside expectations for the year
He leaned on his depth
And banked on rookies to lack fear
They traded their top scorer
Put more faith in role players
Many projected horror
They were foolish naysayers
Now with the game’s greatest bench threat
Shai, Landry, Pat Bev and Gallinari
They are flying like a jet
But they have the swagger of a Ferrari
Together as one they will claim a great city
“But that’s where The King resides.” Oh? What a pity.
Lou Williams is the officially the most prolific bench scorer of all-time and I think it’s time to have a conversation about what that should mean to Hall of Fame voters.
This week: 12th, Last week N/A
Notes: Winners in seven of their last eight games, the Clippers have found all types of ways to win. On Sunday, they blew a double-digit lead in the final minute, but Lou Williams knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to save the day and deliver a win. The victory was Doc Rivers’ 300th as Clippers coach. He is the seventh coach in NBA history with at least 300 regular-season wins with two or more teams.
Author’s note - These next two rankings were posted Mar. 15 before the Clippers Friday and Sunday games
This week: 12th, Last week: N/A
Notes: The Clippers hoisted the white flag at the deadline. And then they pulled it back down and thrashed a series of teams. Barring a monumental collapse, they are going to make the postseason and in doing so, hand their pick to the Celtics. Boston getting someone else’s pick seems like a theme this season.
This week: 9th, Last week: 10th
Notes: The Los Angeles Clippers won five straight to reach a season-high 10 games over .500 before they fell in Portland on Tuesday. With a plus-7.4 net rating in March, these guys keep postponing the fade so many expect.
With Landry Shamet (46.9 percent from deep since joining the team Feb. 6) scorching from the outside and newly minted all-time leading bench scorer Lou Williams dropping 40-spots whenever he feels like it, that long-awaited slide out of relevance may not be coming. Los Angeles is walking the delicate line between winning now and setting itself up to win later, and it may have dealt the crushing blow to the Lakers’ playoff hopes with that March 4 victory against its Staples Center co-tenants.
Not a bad transition year for the Clippers.